E.J. McMahon

Founding Senior Fellow

Edmund J. McMahon is the Empire Center’s founding senior fellow.

McMahon’s writing and research focuses on improving New York’s economic competitiveness and promoting greater transparency, accountability and fiscal responsibility in state and local government. He has authored or co-authored major studies on public pension reform, collective bargaining, population migration, budget trends and tax policy in New York. His influential “Blueprint for a Better Budget,” published in January 2010, featured a number of recommendations subsequently implemented under Governors David Paterson and Andrew Cuomo. McMahon also was a leading advocate of an across-the-board cap on property taxes in New York before it was enacted at Governor Cuomo’s initiative in 2011.

McMahon has published numerous articles and essays in publications including the Wall Street JournalThe New York TimesBarron’s, the Public Interest, the New York Post, the New York Daily NewsNewsday and the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal. His frequent radio and TV interviews have included appearances on CNBC, Fox News Channel and Bloomberg News, as well as on regional cable and broadcast outlets throughout New York State.

McMahon’s professional background includes nearly 30 years as an Albany-based analyst and close observer of New York State government. As chief fiscal advisor to the Assembly Republican Conference in the early 1990s, he drafted a personal income tax reform plan that would become the basis for historic tax cuts enacted under Governor George E. Pataki. Previously, as research director of the Public Policy Institute, he worked on the Institute’s counter-budget proposals and developed the template for New York’s school report cards. He also served as a deputy commissioner in the state Department of Taxation and Finance and as a vice chancellor of the State University of New York.

McMahon is also an adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, which he joined in June 2000. In January 2005, he opened the Institute’s Albany-based Empire Center project, which became an independent nonprofit think tank in 2013. He was the Empire Center’s founding president and became research director in the fall of 2016.

Earlier in his career, he was a staff writer and columnist for the Albany Times Union and The Knickerbocker News.

McMahon is a graduate of Villanova University.

Latest Work

Out of the clear blue sky, a provision making labor union dues fully deductible for state personal income tax purposes was inserted in New York's final fiscal 2018 budget deal, which was enacted by the Legislature over the weekend. Read More

The tentative state budget deal would pour another $385 million into the biggest, murkiest pork-barrel slush fund New York has ever seen. The latest version of the Capital Projects bill (A.3004D) would further fatten the State and Municipal Facilities Program (SMFP), building total funds available through the program to $1.64 billion. Read More

Amid the smoke and confusion surrounding this week’s on-again, off-again budget dance in Albany, Gov. Cuomo made a point well worth repeating. Noting big federal-policy changes afoot in Washington, Cuomo said Wednesday evening that his top priority was “to make sure we do not overcommit ourselves financially.” That’s an eminently responsible position. Too bad the governor hasn’t followed his own advice. Read More

Nearly two-thirds of New York State’s tax receipts are now generated by the personal income tax, or PIT, which relies disproportionately on the highest-earning one percent of New York taxpayers. This paper presents charts and tables highlighting notable trends in state PIT data in light of proposals to extend or increase the state’s so-called “millionaire tax,” along with scheduled PIT rate reductions in tax brackets below the highest income levels. Read More

As the Legislature weighs Governor Cuomo's proposed budget for the fiscal year starting April 1, New York's leading index of business cycle indicators is flashing bright yellow. The Labor Department reports that its Index of Coincident Economic Indicators (ICEI) dropped in December at a 2.6 percent annual rate. It was the fourth consecutive month in which the Index has dropped. Read More